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Rebecca Barnard

2016-12-08 09:35

Bernadette's Story

I was a registered nurse until eleven months ago, always on my feet and lifting heavy objects (including patients) before health and safety and hoists became obligatory. I have been active throughout my life and always did a lot of hill walking.

In 2010 my right knee suddenly became very swollen and painful. I persevered with the pain and bought over the counter painkillers until I could bear it no longer. I went to see my GP who sent me straight to A&E. I was given a series of three injections into my knee joint a week apart. These injections were not steroidal, but synovial, which is the fluid normally found in joints. Three weeks after having these I was, for the first time in a year, pain-free. This was effective for approximately a year, until the swelling and pain began again.

My knee was x-rayed and the diagnosis was osteoarthritis. I was prescribed stronger painkillers and these were somewhat effective, but I soon started to have hip pain, shoulder pain and elbow pain as well. I was then referred to a rheumatologist and an orthopaedic consultant, who requested an X-ray of my hips because of the pain I was experiencing. I had never complained of back pain, but the hip X-ray nevertheless revealed arthritic changes in my lower spine as well as damage to my right hip. On my second appointment the orthopaedic consultant arranged an upper spine X-ray. The results of this showed that my upper spine had even more arthritic damage than the lower spine. Arthritic damage to the spine is very typical for nurses in my age group.

I was told by my consultant that the arthritis in my spine is affecting the nerves to my knee, making the pain here worse. Therefore, a knee replacement would not make any difference - I do not agree with this I'm afraid.

I am now on anti-inflammatories as well as analgesics. I do not like that I have to take such strong medications every day, and I think that taking this medication will cause more medical problems in the long-term. I am in pain most of the time but I believe that walking helps the pain and keeps my joints from stiffening up. If I don't walk I find that my joints are more painful and stiff. I can't walk very fast and don't do high hills now because I don't have a good range of movement due to the arthritis, but I still enjoy life to the full.

I signed up to Cloudy with a Chance of Pain because I am looking for some answers. I'm not sure that the weather has much effect on my own pain, although, I have been abroad in very hot weather and I did find that my knee was more swollen and painful! My pain is worse if I don't walk, whatever the weather.